Pro-Palestinian protesters run from police following a demonstration in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Pro-Palestinian protesters run from police following a demonstration in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Tensions flare at Israel-Palestinian demonstrations in Montreal, Toronto

Several public figures took to their social media accounts to denounce violence and call for calm

Tensions ran high at competing demonstrations over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in both Montreal and Toronto this weekend.

Police in Montreal confirmed they responded to a conflict that erupted between protesters and counter-protesters at a rally in support of Israel near the city’s downtown Sunday afternoon.

People were heard shouting “Free Palestine” as they ran from police, who fired chemical irritants into the air.

The pro-Israel rally comes one day after thousands attended a pro-Palestinian march in Montreal to demand an end to Israeli airstrikes over the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, police in Toronto say they’ve laid charges in connection with a pro-Palestinian demonstration that drew more than 5,000 people to Nathan Phillips Square outside City Hall on Saturday night.

A 22-year-old man faces an assault charge, while a 29-year-old man was charged with bringing a weapon to a public meeting.

Police say they’re also investigating a separate alleged assault outside the square that was circulating on social media. A spokesperson confirmed it was connected to the demonstration but offered no other details.

The protests were stoked by five days of mayhem that left at least 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza and eight dead on the Israeli side. The violence, set off by Hamas firing a rocket into Israel on Monday, came after weeks of mounting tensions in contested Jerusalem.

Israel stepped up its assault and slammed the Gaza Strip with airstrikes Saturday, in a dramatic escalation that included bombing the home of a senior Hamas leader, killing a family of 10 in a refugee camp and destroying a building that housed the offices of The Associated Press and other media.

Several public figures took to their social media accounts to denounce violence and call for calm.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he strongly condemns “the despicable rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend.”

“Everyone has the right to assemble peacefully and express themselves freely in Canada – but we cannot and will not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind,” he tweeted.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called on police to investigate any acts of anti-Semitism, which he says have no place in the province.

“Discrimination or hatred of any kind against any community in our province should never be tolerated,” he wrote on Twitter.

Toronto police have said that Jewish people were the group most frequently victimized by hate crimes in 2020.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs alleged both protests included aggressive acts of anti-Semitism, including Nazi imagery, death threats against Israeli supporters and at least one physical assault. Police forces declined to offer details of what transpired.

The centre said it was “gravely concerned” with what it described as “a wave of violence and anti-Semitism impacting communities across Canada.”

“There is absolutely no justification for political violence of any kind in our streets, whatever one’s cause may be,” it said in a statement. “…Like all Canadians of goodwill, Canada’s Jewish community seeks peace and a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike. At the same time, we urge our neighbours of all backgrounds to join us in condemning these disturbing acts.”

— with files from Graham Hughes and The Associated Press.

The Canadian Press

Gaza IsraelIsraelMiddle East

Just Posted

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read